European Commission
Commission President speaks on vision for “socio-ecological contract”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke this week at the ETUI-ETUC Conference on the topic of a ‘new socio-ecological contract’. She noted initiatives such the proposal of the directive for adequate minimum wages across Europe and noted that this year should be the year of social dialogue. She also highlighted the presentation in March of an action plan to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights. (link) Andrea Nahles, Special Advisor on Social Dialogue to Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, meanwhile this week published a report on strengthening EU social dialogue. (link)

Commissioner Johansson speaks at Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group on Europol

Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson spoke at the Joint Parliamentary Scrutiny Group on Europol this week, reiterating the Commission’s plans for the new Europol mandate. She highlighted how the new mandate addresses a key ask from the Parliament on enabling Europol to propose initiating investigations in a single Member State when shared interests are at stake. She also highlighted the changes that will allow private companies to refer child sexual abuse material directly to Europol. Another aspect she emphasised was Europol’s ability to create its own special security alerts and Europol’s cooperation with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. She said it was essential that Europol be able to use technology such as artificial intelligence and big data to help investigations and discussed the increased budget for Europol. (link)

Commission launches vaccine export authorisation scheme

The European Commission has put in place a vaccine export authorisation scheme to address the lack of transparency of vaccine exports outside the EU. This follows the Commission’s dispute with supplier AstraZeneca over a shortfall in vaccine doses. The Commission made a deal with the company in August 2020 for 300 million doses of the vaccine, which was approved for use in the EU last Friday, however due to issues with production plants in the Netherlands and Belgium, a much smaller number of vaccines than expected would be available by March. (link)

European Parliament

Parliament Rapporteurs to present draft report on EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement

The Foreign Affairs and International Trade committees in the European Parliament have assessed the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement this week, with the two Rapporteurs presenting their draft report on Friday 5 February. Once the Committees have voted on their recommendation the full Plenary will vote on the Parliament’s consent to the Agreement. Separately, Parliament will also vote on an accompanying resolution, outlining its political position. (link)

MEPs decide against setting up inquiry Committee into Frontex

MEPs have decided against setting up a standard inquiry Committee to investigate allegations against Frontex. Instead, the Parliament will carry out a smaller probe into the practices of the border guard agency. MEPs from the LIBE Committee decided to set up a Working Group to look into allegations

around Frontex’s role in the illegal pushbacks of migrants. (link)

·        Belgium: Police officers cannot stop travellers from leaving or send them back despite ban on non-essential travel (link)

·        Bosnia and Herzegovina: Border police director Zoran Galić says it is currently impossible for the border police to adequately protect the state border (link)

·        Czech Republic: Czech Republic seeks bilateral agreement on police cooperation with UK post-Brexit (link)

·        England: Tasers could be made available to all police officers who want them (link)

·        Finland: Police money dogs detect total of €1.8 million, 162 kg of drugs and 45 firearms in past year (link)

·        Greece: Police forces will be provided with ‘Smart policing’ tech this summer, allowing for real-time facial recognition of the public (link)

·        Northern Ireland: Police to increase patrols at points of entry over concern for staff safety (link)

Other news
CEPOL launches EU Strategic Training Needs Assessment 2022-2025

CEPOL has this week launched the EU Strategic Training Needs Assessment (EU-STNA) 2022-2025, looking to identify EU-level training priorities. The Assessment will help build the necessary capacity of law enforcement officials in the area of internal security and serious and organised cross-border crime, while avoiding duplication of efforts between the Member State and the EU. (link)

Europol raises alert over false coronavirus certificates

Europol released a warning notification on Monday highlighting the malicious activities of criminal groups across the EU in fabricating negative coronavirus certificates. Europol noted that as long as travel restrictions remain in place due to the pandemic, it is very likely that criminals will seize the opportunity of producing and selling fake COVID-19 test certificates. (link)

Europol to put forward action plan to address use of large datasets for criminal investigations Europol has defended its record on using large datasets for criminal investigations and said it will put forward an action plan to address concerns raised by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS). The EDPS criticised Europol in September after an investigation found that national law enforcement agencies transmitted large datasets to Europol instead of targeted data proportionate to specific criminal investigations. The Europol action plan, reported on by Euractiv, calls for a revision of the 2016 Europol Regulation to address the issue of data use. (link)

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